Thursday, March 15, 2012

Awake: The Postmodern Reformation is Here

Episcopalians in liturgical style of worship strive to open  the senses of mind and body, by means of Eucharistic pageantry, to an awareness of the calming presence of Christ. In a dialogue about worship with a young emerging Christian he said, "Father, your generation goes to church to hear the word of God, and my generation goes to church to feel the word of God." When young emerging Christians worship in a high energy contemporary service or a mystical Taize transformaize style service, it is about experiencing God with all the senses.

It is Marshal McLuhan's The medium is the Massage electronic media from the sixties. Western culture has entered into a process of media retribalization. Everyday, we are being transformed into a new global planet shaped by the transformative power of electronic/digital media.
We are returning, in the communication of spiritual matters, to Aristotle's discipline and practice of aesthetics as the main source of spiritual knowledge and awareness of the divine.Electronic aesthetics is the theological authority of a Postmodern culture. There is no hierarchical authority any longer; there is only persuasion  by means of aesthetics.

Western Christianity shaped by the theology of Catholic scholasticism and the Reformation steadily eliminated the many of the senses from Christian worship until it became predominantly a matter of reading and hearing the printed word. Religious aesthetics is about the transmission and sharing of our experiences and feelings of God by means of the senses. We are coming to a deeper awareness of the Body of Christ as opposed to the Left Brain Rational Print of God.
Driven by digital/media, we have moved from a visual print culture to an acoustical touching culture. Everyday, from waking to sleeping, we hear and touch the PC keys, the Kindle, ipad, ipod; we hear and text all day.

We are involved in a cultural cybernetics of feedforward/feedback of information at the speed of light. It changes our culture. It changes the nature of the interaction of the brain and the senses. It does more than change our worship and preaching; it changes how we conceive God by means of the experiential community and inner mysticism.

In such a culture we must continuously enter the process of the deconstruction and reconstruction of Anglicanism if it is to survive. Let's take an example of the House of Bishops. What does it become in an age of electronic aesthetics? Probably, about ten national Bishops who are gifted electronic artists. Rectors will have to forget most of their theological training. Seminaries and clergy education are counter productive defenders of the Church of the Printed word. The laity, in love with their Victorian/quasi Catholic pageantry will have to watch slowly it pass away. What's the answer. It is the call to an  Emerging Reform of western Christianity. The head trip is over. The electronic soul train is on the move.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, thank you for a concise and accurate rendition of our circumstance. Your title beginning with "awake," poses many interesting associations for me. Awakening, as poets and mystics have told us may mean to find that to be awake is to realize that the dream was what we called our daily life and that the dream itself is the greater reality. If such is the case, then our leadership remains asleep in a dream of some past they conjure in their wistful view of an imagined past. By the leadership, I mean bishops and our ecclesiastical governing bodies whose answer to our, or perhaps their, imagined problems is a new matrix of structure to reduce expense. The reality in awakening, I believe, as you indicate is to feel, to be in tune with and to see with new vision the mystical reality of the divine in the lateral that is really elliptical and eternal. This reality is best modeled as the sign for infinity in which we find ourselves less on a grid and more in motion relative to the moments and movements we share. The Celtic notion of shape shifting is for us the same as the Trinity of a dynamic God and of quantum mechanics. All is in all within a mysterious framework, more like an expanding balloon in which centers are relative to location. This means that leadership must humbly submit itself to feeling, touching and seeing the Christ only fully known in the other who has the authority of friendship, the mutuality of discovering that we are in the same groove and vibrate together in sync with a mission far more dynamic than a cost effective model of institutional survival, a skeleton of some former imagined time, provides. Shall we feed each other with bread or stones, with the food of eternal life or calcified remains?